Sunday, June 29, 2008

Caption This 77

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

Quick note from our sponsor:
Please click here if you're looking for the latest Thematic Photographic entry. We now resume our regularly-scheduled programming.

I've always had a certain affinity for cows. I can't quite explain why, but they just seem sweet. I even named my first car with a cow theme: Bessie the Mazda still evokes fond memories of university-age adventures.

Noah helped me take this picture on our kitchen table. About four seconds after I snapped this, he scooped it up and popped it into his mouth. The cynic in me knows he was only interested in the final, sweet prize. But I cherish the quiet moment with him all the same.

Your turn: Can you caption this photo? I hope you can. Wait, I know you can. Click on the Comments link below and have at it. Best pick gets posted next week. Bonus points to multiple-submitters and anyone who brings a friend along.

About last week's photo of two guys in front of a convenience store: I love slice-of-life photos, and obviously you do, too. We had a rich field of submissions this week. First, the honorable menschens:
  • Linda: "Tom and Joe lined up early to buy lotto tickets, never realizing it was a 24 hour store!"
  • Mojo: "Dude... you gonna eat that?" and "Could be worse... Could be rainin'." (Note from Carmi - yes, I encourage multiple entries.)
  • Carolyn: "Look man, i don't want to talk about your chances to win the Lotto until you put some pants on. You got the whitest legs i've ever seen."
  • Awareness: "Lost in suburbia."
  • John: "Dude, don't look now, but across the street? That dude with the camera just took our picture. You're not wanted for anything are ya?"
  • Barbie2be: "Misspent youth."
  • Killashandra: "Lookin' for Work."
  • Beverly: "What time does the bus stop here?"
  • Jean-Luc Picard: "You HAD to ask the guy at the counter what time the store closes, didn't you!"
  • Jacie: "You got any idea what day it is...?"
This week's nod goes to Erin for Waiting. It was a simple, stark moment that seemed to match her simple, stark caption. Please drop by her blog, Running at Large, to congratulate her - I'm certain you'll stick around to read her gently crafted observations of her family's life. Have fun with this week's caption!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hardwood floor

Say goodbye
London, ON, June 2008

This view down the floor of the main office in our kids' school will soon be all we have left: We've held our last classes there, our stuff has been boxed and taken offsite in anticipation of the move to our new school, and we hand over the property for good to the new owners on Monday.

(If you're just joining us, click here for the original entry on our school's big transition.)

This floor has always fascinated me. Its well worn planks betrayed every one of the building's more than 80 years of existence. I suspect they'd have some amazing stories to tell about the students, teachers, librarians and neighbourhood folks who have called this place home for so long.

Your turn: The imprints that an important building left on you. Please discuss.

One more thing: This image continues this week's Thematic Photographic theme, wood. If you haven't joined in yet - or if you're wondering what this neat new online photo sharing project is all about - please click here to get started. I just know you'll love the experience.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bill Gates leaves Microsoft. Sort of.

Slight change of plans tonight. Normal posting - including photos, insights on an eventful week in our kids' lives, and a quick look at my evolving media whoredom - returns early tomorrow.

For now, however, the geek in me couldn't not mention that today was Bill Gates's last day as a full-time Microsoftie. As you've likely heard, he's retiring from the pioneering software company that he founded a generation ago to devote more time to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He's not going away completely, mind you. Like a genial ex-honcho who just can't stay away, he'll grace his office at Microsoft one day per week, sharing his insights with the folks who will ultimately determine whether Microsoft survives and thrives in the new online economy.

I don't wish to make this sound bigger than it is. People retire all the time. And when they do, life goes on for them and for those they leave behind. Despite his wealth and influence, Bill Gates is hardly different.

Still, I can't help but feel that an era is ending. We've all used Microsoft's products, and we've all witnessed - and experienced - the firm's extreme influence on the PC market's evolution from hobbyist nerdfest in the mid-70s to the economic/societal pillar that it is today.

I've been privileged to have seen him speak in-person three times in recent years. In each case, you could hear a pin drop in a room filled with thousands of people. You could feel how excited he was by the technology he oversaw. You could see the visionary at work as he walked through a scenario for the audience.

His genius was understanding the potential of technology and its ability to evolve our lives, to improve our situation. This genius will now be applied full-time to resolving issues more fundamental than Windows Vista stability: namely, poverty, AIDS, education.

It's been a neat ride so far, and love him or hate him, no one denies that he didn't change the world. As he leaves, I wonder who out there will have the courage to fill his outsized shoes.

Your turn: What makes an icon?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Four times around the sun

Four years ago today, I posted my first entry to Written Inc. Since then, I've evolved a somewhat quaint little tradition in that I write an anniversary post every June 26th (click for the first, second and third annivesary entries.) I'm not sure why: What, after all, can I say differently about the road I've taken that I didn't already say last year, or the year before?

But my obsessive nature compels me to mark personal milestones in some subtle way. In many ways, this little blog has been a gateway to so much more, a springboard to a writing career and a connection to a community I wouldn't have known if I hadn't taken that first step. It's been the fuel that rekindled my burning need to catalog the world around me with words and images.

More specifically, it's been a neat way to journal my life and the life of my family, to tell our ongoing story in ways that simply wouldn't have been as rich in any other medium. It turned me back into a storyteller.

Your turn: Why do you blog? How has it affected your life

One more thing: This week's Thematic Photographic theme is wood. Click here to get started if you haven't already done so. Bonus points for bringing a friend along!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thematic Photographic 4 - Wood

Man on the moon?
London, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Last week's Thematic Photographic theme, glass, seemed simple at first glance. But like so many things in my life, it took a few extra and very welcome twists along the way. Ultimately, it turned out to be an elemental challenge that prompted some amazing responses from some amazing bloggers. Thank you all so much!

So instead of bucking convention this week, I thought I'd continue the trend with a similarly elemental theme, wood. It touches our lives in so many ways that it's difficult to imagine what life would be like without it. And all from something that started out as a seed and a dream. An amazing thing, this wood is.

I came across this somewhat startling scene while walking along a pastoral stretch of London's multipurpose path network. As I composed this macro shot beside the burbling river, an elderly couple passed by and asked what I was shooting. I explained my addiction to abstract macros, and they both nodded their heads and asked for a closer look. As I showed them the pictures on the camera's screen, they nodded their heads enthusiastically and said I should keep looking for stories in small scenes.

And so I shall.

Your turn: If you're new to Thematic Photographic, here's the lowdown. If you know the drill, I'll let you get cracking...
  1. I post a new entry every Wednesday evening.
  2. Each entry has a unique theme.
  3. You post a similarly themed image over on your blog.
  4. You paste a link to your entry in a comment here. If you've already posted something that fits (on a blog, Facebook, MySpace, wherever) simply post the link to the existing entry.
  5. Delirious photo sharing and happiness ensues.
I'll post wood-themed images through the week to keep the fun going. I can't wait to see what you come up, too. Go nuts!

One more thing: Two Canadian TV appearances coming up in the very near future.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Glassy rim

Fill it to the rim
Toronto, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

All week long, I've been posting glass-themed photos as part of the latest Thematic Photographic entry. This one is one of my faves because although the glass itself is a hard substance, the composition and lighting make this seem like a very soft scene.

Oops, sorry for the confusion: What's Thematic Photographic? Well, if you're a WW fan, then TP may interest you. Please read on...

Your turn: Click here to learn more about Thematic Photographic - and to throw your own link into the mix. I'll be posting next week's TP theme later on Wednesday evening, but you're always welcome to contribute to last week's theme as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

In a rush to get there

Woodstock, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

For reasons that still make little sense to me, movie soundtracks and scores move my soul. Somehow, music composed expressly to accompany a motion picture seems to tell a story in every note. It can either make me think, or it can take me away from whatever disturbing reality surrounds me at a given moment.

As I pulled over by the side of the road in this rolling stretch of southwestern Ontario farmland, a tune from the Jerry Maguire soundtrack was playing on my media player. His Name is Alive's "Sitting Still Moving Still Staring Outlooking" filled the car with a soft guitar-based ode to lives in transition. The song makes me think about where we've been and where we'd like to go. And how we'd like to get there.

It was one of those peaceful moments where you're glad you stopped to smell the roses. I need to do this more often, I thought. So as I saw this car approach from the horizon, I knew I could tell a similar story with the help of the car's side-view mirror. Sometimes, art imitates life, which in turn imitates art.

Your turn: Looking back. Looking forward. Please discuss.

One more thing: This photo continues this week's Thematic Photographic theme of glass (okay, it's reflective, but it's still glass.) Just two days left to share your glass-themed link in a comment before I post the next TP theme on Wednesday evening. Please click here to see what everyone else has been up to this week. Caption This is also taking suggestions, so fill that mug of tea and have fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Caption This 76

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

Corner stores seem to be part of every neighborhood's fabric. Sure, they sell overpriced stuff that seems destined to ever so slowly squeeze the life out of us. But when we need something in a pinch at an ungodly hour, we usually bite the bullet and pop into these oases of urban life.

I caught this moment as I walked past one such market earlier this month. I was too far away to hear their conversation. But that's your job...

Your turn: Please caption this moment-in-time image in the lives of these two randomly-encountered strangers. I'm a sucker for multiple submissions, so go nuts in comments, and feel free to pull in your friends, family members and even pets for inspiration.

About last week's photo of a trashed building: Sad pictures often seem to provoke the neatest captions - and this week's CT was no exception. Thank you all for rising to the occasion. This week's honorable menschens are:
  • OhDannyBoy: "Never trust a contractor who says he'll have the work done 'Thursday'."
  • Sassy Mama Bear: "Nope, The Cat in the Hat ain't never coming back!"
  • Bob-kat: "Who left the gas on?"
  • Babystepper: "Temper Tantrum."
  • Allison, Terri and Dawn: "And it all comes crumbling down."
  • The Imaginary Reviewer: "For sale: One bedroom apartment. Needs a little work. Would suit handyman."
  • Randall: "Inside out."
  • Awareness: "End of the road to nowhere."
  • Sara: "This used to be my playroom."
  • Robin: "Abandonment issues."
Lara touched one of my many nerves with her caption, "Reflections of what was, lost to what will be." Whenever I see a piece of ruined architecture, I find myself wishing the walls could talk, that I could learn the story of this place before it's too late. It's what I thought as I stuck my lens through the door and captured this scene. Her blog, Life: The Ongoing Education, combines provocative writing and sensitive photography in a way that I really appreciate. Please visit her, as I know you will, too.

Thanks to everyone for making Caption This such a neat highlight of the week. For more photographic fun, check out the latest Thematic Photographic as well.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Last one out turns off the light

Lighting the way no longer
London, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

We said goodbye to our kids' school yesterday. The building - built in 1920 as a three-room schoolhouse, then turned into a library and eventually back into a school - has been sold to the nearby university that plans to renovate it and continue to use it for classes. Construction on a new facility for the munchkins is nearing completion on the community centre campus a few blocks away. Yesterday was the last day of class in the old facility.

It's an exciting time for everyone, as it represents a huge turning point in the history of this very special little school. But I found myself feeling a little sad as I stood beside the age-worn brick and thought about how it'll never again resonate with the screams of kids.

This building needed to go. Like an old car that spends more time in the shop than on the road, maintenance was draining the budget. The gym had a pole in the middle of it. Classrooms lacked a lot of the basic amenities today's kids need. Charm could only take it so far.

Yet as much as life has to go on, I wanted to slow it down for a bit with my camera. I wanted to remember what it felt like to come to a strange city and find a place to lay down roots, a place where were were able to connect with total strangers and become part of their lives and the community at large. This old, run-down building was where it started for us and for so many others, and despite its lack of air conditioning and general sense of antique discomfort, we'll miss the place.

Your turn: An old building that was more than the sum of its parts. Please discuss.

If you're just joining us: This photo continues this week's Thematic Photographic theme: glass. Click here to jump in if you haven't yet had the chance. Long story short: Leave a link to your own glass-themed image in a comment and see what everyone else comes up with, too. It'll be fun!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Through the looking glass

Stepped facade
Toronto, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

I shot this image a week ago Thursday, at the end of a long day in the big city. I had shlepped my camera with me pretty much everywhere. Through meetings and interviews, it stayed tucked unobtrusively in my laptop bag. Somewhat oddly, I wasn't getting that little vibe inside me that encourages me to capture a scene. Nothing was inspiring me to shoot as I walked through this busy downtown.

As I inched my way through gridlocked traffic at the end of the day, I found myself sitting behind a large knot of cars whose drivers didn't seem to know where they wanted to go. So I sat. And sat. And sat. And as I sat, I looked out the window and noticed I was next to this particularly overbearing example of '80s glass facade architecture. I had time to rack off one quick shot before the indecisive motorists around me got their decisiveness back and started to roll.

In keeping with this week's Thematic Photographic theme (glass), I wanted to share this moment with you. If you haven't played yet, I hope you'll click here and join the growing party. I've also posted additional background on how Thematic Photographic works here.

Your turn: Why doesn't the photographic voice inside us always speak? What do you do to get things going again?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Still with the glass

Arched window on Yonge
Toronto, ON, May 2008 [Click to embiggen]

This week's Thematic Photographic theme, glass, is resonating in my head. This must explain the drinking glass that spontaneously cracked off a jagged looking slice as I placed it in the dishwasher this evening. It knew.

So I thought I'd keep the glassy fun going with this view of a somewhat older building almost immediately across the street from this one. And if you haven't taken a crack at Thematic Photographic yet, you're missing some fun. Click here to correct that oversight.

Quick clarification: Thematic Photographic challenges you to share a photo that reflects this week's theme. Two things I wanted to reiterate:
  1. You don't necessarily need your own blog - Facebook, MySpace or any other online venue will long as you can link to it.
  2. Similarly, you don't need to come up with something completely new. If you can't spare the time, feel free to link to something that's already online, even if it's old.
Your turn: Do you look into windows from outside? (I'm not intimating that you're a Peeping Tom, but I suspect we all let our eyes wonder what's behind the glass on occasion. No?)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thematic Photographic 3 - Glass

Look in any window
Toronto, ON, May 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Glass is an amazing creation. Depending on how simple grains of sand are melted, tinted and shaped, it can be clear, translucent, reflective, pretty much whatever its creator wills it to be. As you can see from this oblique perspective of a building on Toronto's Yonge Street, I'm a big fan of patterns, too.

So this week's Thematic Photographic theme Here's a quick reminder of how TP works:
  1. I post a new entry every Wednesday evening.
  2. Each entry has a unique theme.
  3. You post a similarly themed image over on your blog.
  4. You paste a link to your entry in a comment here. If you've already posted something that fits, simply post the link to the existing entry.
  5. Delirious photo sharing and happiness ensues.
I hope you have fun with this one. Glass can be such a diverse topic, and I'm jazzed just thinking of what you'll come up with. To see all TP entries to-date, click here.

Your turn: OK, over to you. I'll leave this week's theme in your capable hands. Can't wait to see your themed entries.

Wordless Wednesday - A chalk circle moment

Child's tools of creation
Toronto, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

I first wrote about chalk circle moments a little over a year ago (click here to read the original entry.) Long story short, a CCM is all about taking the time to appreciate the little things that matter in life. I hope this image inspires you to capture such a moment today.

Your turn: You're sitting on the sidewalk - either alone or with a munchkin, your choice - with a box of colorful chalk by your side. What do you draw?

One more thing: Written Inc. has two weekly interactive features that I hope you'll dive into.:
  • Caption This is posted every Sunday and it challenges you to provide a witty caption for a new photo every week.
  • Thematic Photographic goes online every Wednesday evening, and it challenges readers to post photos of their own that reflect each week's theme. Our current theme: snack food. Come back tonight for our new theme...
I hope you'll pop in to both each week and take part. The more, the merrier!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Random observations of a nerdy writer

The old noggin is pounding, for some reason. So rather than try to gut out a photo and an accompanying cohesive thought, I'll wuss out and share a few quick observations before I put the hat back over my head and try to zen the pain away. Yes, I declare zen a verb:
  1. The car adapter, data cable and windshield suction cup thing for your GPS do not belong in the recycling bin. Bad things happen if you fail to heed this. Don't ask how I know.
  2. My wife is a very understanding woman. See #1 for explanation.
  3. When a 7-year-old promises to share a piece of chocolate with you, don't let him start the festivities. I'm still waiting for my chocolate. I'll be waiting for a good long while.
  4. Our dog seems to look even sweeter when we tie a bandana around his neck. I'm not sure why that is, but the Winnie the Pooh/Eeyore motif really suits him. He's still insane, though.
  5. I get excited by geeky things. To wit, I just upgraded to Firefox 3.0 (run, don't walk here to do the same.) I did a little happy dance when it loaded successfully for the first time. I'm odd that way.
Your turn: Please share one minor thing you observed today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

At the crossroads

Pick a direction
Montreal, QC, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

While walking the halls of the hospital (please see here for additional background), I kept seeing myself in the convex mirrors at each intersection. I'm not really the vain type, so it didn't bother me that I looked, um, bigger than I normally would. It's an illusion, after all. And it was a neat shot.

Your turn: Ever find yourself at a crossroads? Do tell. What direction did you take? Why?

Psst: We're still captioning. Point your mouse here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Caption This 75

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

This is either the aftermath of our exuberant Father's Day 2008 celebrations or the interior of a long-forgotten structure on a similarly forgotten stretch of road in my burg. Either way, it's a scene that's ripe for your caption suggestions. So I'll turn it over to you...

Your turn: Please suggest a caption for this photo. Just click the comment link below and go nuts. You may submit as many captions as you wish - I'm a sucker for multiple-submitters. Be as funny as you can - we all need a good laugh these days. I'll post a new Caption This photo next Sunday.

About last week's desolate service station photo: I think I must be going through a morose phase in my photographic life, as I keep posting sad-looking views of my world. Sorry.

Honorable menschens go to the following excellent folks:
  • Terri: "Chew on this!"
  • Awareness: "Redneck one stop shopping."
  • The Imaginary Reviewer: "While it did nothing for their lap times, the new pit lane addition was highly appreciated by all the NASCAR drivers."
  • Anne: "Got Milk?"
  • Robin: "Counter intelligence."
Creme Brulee takes it with the lovely play-on-name, "Slim Pickins." CB, aka Gord Harrison, is a columnist in none other than my local weekly paper, The Londoner, and it's a privilege to cross his path in the blogosphere as well. Please pop by his blog, It Strikes Me Funny, to share a congratulatory word or two.

One more thing: Are you looking for ways to get your photography noticed by a larger audience? Click here for this week's Thematic Photographic. You'll be glad you did. Really.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Forgotten lot
Woodstock, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

Another red light photo from my recent adventure through the wilds on southwestern Ontario. I took this one precisely because I don't think anyone else might have ever taken a similar picture of this place.

Here's my logic: Everyone takes pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building and the Grand Canyon. But who takes pictures of the shadows of the tower, the seedy streets three blocks away from the falls, the homeless man who fell through the Empire State's cracks, or the bus stop near the observation point overlooking the canyon?

No one, probably.

I guess I just want to be different.

Your turn: How are you different?

Windows on the world

Look out any window
Woodstock, ON, June 2008 [Click to embiggen]

I keep my camera nearby in case I get inspired while sitting at a red light (no, Mom, I don't shoot while driving.) This building overlooks an intersection in the charming downtown of Woodstock, Ontario. The main drag, Dundas Street, cuts right through the middle of the burg, and as I slowly rolled through this place on Thursday night, I was heartened by how many people were out and about. This was a neighbourhood with soul.

I imagined people gazing down from these windows, and wondered what they'd be thinking. By the architecture of the building, folks have probably been doing the same thing for well over a century. I felt suddenly humbled as I took this shot.

Your turn: Please look out your window. What are you thinking as you do so?

One more thing: Thematic Photographic and Caption This are still taking comments. Click on the respective links to take part. New Caption This coming tomorrow.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, 1950-2008

The longtime host of NBC's Meet the Press died suddenly at work this afternoon. He was 58.

I've always held major disdain for the kind of wall-to-wall, to-the-exclusion-of-all-else coverage that American news outlets throw at political campaigns. Yet I always happily made an exception in the case of Mr. Russert, because he was clearly a man who loved his craft and understood how it touched the lives of the ordinary folks who sat on the other end of his camera or his pen. He was also a man who revered his family, who understood how it shaped him and the community around him.

The world needs journalists with conscience now more than ever. Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why this particular one was taken from us so early.

May his memory always be a blessing. May those who've watched and learned from him over the course of his career have the opportunity to continue his unique legacy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Roadside reflection redux

Swift. Stopped.
West of Woodstock, ON, June 2008 [Click to enlarge]

Had a really cool day in Toronto today that included an in-studio interview with Fred Langan of the CBC Business News. I was talking about Bill C-61, a piece of proposed legislation that would update Canada's Copyright Act. It was introduced today, and it had the Canuck Internet world abuzz.

On my way home, traffic was nightmarish. So to drop my blood pressure a bit, I got off the 401 at Woodstock and, for the last 60 km of the 200 km drive, I took the road less travelled through rolling farmland and picture perfect towns. I stopped outside Woodstock and captured this near-sunset image. Since I have a thing for reflective cars on Route 2 in the evening - see here for a similarly-themed image from last June - I thought I'd use the rental car, a black Suzuki Swift with really useless cupholders and a blown left speaker, as a prop.

I felt very peaceful as I carefully made my way home through an impossibly beautiful landscape. I would have missed it all had I stayed on the superhighway. I'm glad I did.

Your turn: Taking the road less travelled. Do you? Why?

One more thing: This week's Thematic Photographic theme is snack food. Do you have the stomach to submit your own snack food-themed photo? Click here to find out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thematic Photographic 2 - Snack food

You old softie
Delray Beach, FL
December 2007
[Click to embiggen]

Call me overly simplistic. Baskin-Robbins may have their 31 flavors and the kids may spend too much time fingerprinting the display case at the local Laura Secord as they weigh the relative merits of chocolate chocolate chunk and fudge chip swirl, but I'll always be a sucker for a soft vanilla cone with nothing on it.

What's your favorite snack food? Is it cold, hot or somewhere in between. Sugary-sweet or oh-so-tart? If you're not really supposed to be eating it, I hope you're taking pictures of it.

That's what Thematic Photographic, our new weekly photo sharing thing, is all about: exploring neat new themes through our lenses, sharing them with others and maybe expanding our own optical horizons a bit in the process.

Here's how Thematic Photographic works:
  1. I post a new entry every Wednesday.
  2. Each entry has a theme.
  3. You post a similarly themed image over on your blog.
  4. You paste a link to your entry in a comment here.
  5. Delirious photo sharing and happiness ensues.
Last week's TP entry was automotive. This week's is snack food. What's next week's going to be? I'm all ears.

Your turn: Start shooting and sharing. I can't wait to see what you come up with. I'm already anticipating being very hungry!

Wordless Wednesday - Yaris by Toyota

Grab me
Toronto, ON
May 2008
[Click to embiggen]

It's small, it's kicky, and it can look pretty damn cool if you take the time to shoot it from the right angles. Come to think of it, the coolness of a given shot often has more to do with the composition than the subject.

I used this car - a pumpkin-colored Toyota Yaris that I rented for a couple of days last month - as a testbed for this new theory of mine. I borrowed one of the resulting photos to launch my newest weekly photo theme extravaganza, Thematic Photographic (click here for the inaugural entry. I'll wait here while you do.)

Your turn: Making the ordinary look extraordinary through your lens. Please discuss.

One more thing: We're still looking for captions for this week's Caption This. Click here to stick around for some more photographic fun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

3G iPhone sucks

No, I'm not serious. It only sucks if you were the first one to buy the old one. Or if you accidentally bricked it. Or if you dropped it under a bus. Or if you live in Canada.

Steve Jobs has once again spun his magic (also known as his reality distortion field) and announced the next generation superfast, supercool and supersexy must-have gadget of the millenium, Apple's 3G iPhone. Or, more correctly, the Apple iPhone 3G. By any name, it's a neato piece of technology. And it's coming to Canada July 11th (yay!) Exclusively through Rogers (Not so yay.)

I got to talk with Ed Oswald of, and he published the following article: WWDC: Dissecting the 3G iPhone.

I also chatted on the air with AM640 Toronto's Mike Stafford this morning (click here for show lineup.) There's something about live radio that reaches my soul. It's a very comforting and real medium. In related news, I've been settling into a regular routine with AM640 recently, airing on the John Downs Show as his regular tech guru-guest Friday evenings between 8:40 and 9:00 p.m. ET. There's a Listen Live link on the home page if you're around and want to hear it as it happens.

Last Friday, I spoke with BNN's Kim Parlee and Andrew Bell about new dual-mode UMA phones from Research In Motion and why this stuff matters to the rest of us. The interview was televised live. It was available here, but it seems to have expired. I'll keep hunting for a live link.

A few more recent media hits:

The National Post/The Financial Post (June 4/5). David George-Cosh published an update on the Canadian wireless spectrum auction, Rich auction may leave cellphone users poorer. Print version is available here, and it was also published under the alternate headline Wireless auction goes wild.
As bidding continues to increase, industry observers have noted that expensive wireless licences could potentially result in a similar situation that occurred after the 2000 United Kingdom 3G spectrum auction which saw £22.5-billion in revenue. While the auction blew past analysts' expectations, it vastly increased the amount of debt its winners, Vodafone, British Telecom, Orange, and One2One took on, and ultimately delayed the deployment of the country's 3G network.

"It raises the risk and the stakes for new entrants," said AR Communications Inc. consultant Carmi Levy. "It gives them a little less breathing room to launch their services. The more money you give to the government, the less money you have to build a network."
PC World Canada (June 2). Canadian tool computes impact of missing your meds. Byline Brian Jackson. Canada (June 2). Information workers would "love to bring" Yahoo Messenger 9.0 beta into the office. Byline Nestor Arellano. (For the record, I've always been pretty clear in my contention that this is a consumer-focused product.) Article also published in PC World and Computerworld UK. (byline Judy Mottl):
For the record, I won't be pitching my BlackBerry anytime soon. Two different markets, two different sets of strengths and weaknesses. For now. Over time, that'll change, too.

More to come, I'm sure. Exciting, isn't it?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Old radiator, different light

My stairwell
Montreal, QC, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

I've written before about how I practically grew up in this hospital. To while away the long hours of alone-ness, I used to wander the halls in a wheelchair, drinking in the institutional atmosphere of this overwhelming place and trying - with limited success - to find my place within it. In retrospect, a hospitalized child today would have to wear a monitoring bracelet. But way back then, no one batted an eyelash when I hit the linoleum-covered road and went exploring.

Now, I was wandering those same halls. Only I was an adult, and I could once again walk. I stopped in my tracks as I passed this stairwell. Like a thunderbolt, I was a child again. I suddenly remembered this very scene, down to every last detail. Of course, it looked different: snazzy glass block had replaced dowdy frosted glass and bright yellow paint now covered the faded institutional green. Unlike my first time here, I was able to walk past the doors and climb the stairs. Back then, I just stared from my chair, knowing that someday soon I'd be able to climb them on my own.

The nurse who looked at me funny as she walked past must have thought I was crazy for taking a picture of a radiator. But it was much more than a radiator to me, and I'm glad I chose this particular corridor to visit on that day.

Your turn: Flashes from your childhood. Ever have them?

One more thing: Click here for the latest Thematic Photographic, and here for Caption This.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Caption This 74

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

Cordele, GA, December 2007 [Click to enlarge]

It's funny the things you see when you're topping off the tank in a forlorn old gas station beside I-75 somewhere deep in southern Georgia. I have no doubt you'll all have rich things to say about this week's hastily captured image.

Your turn: Please creatively suggest a caption in a comment. Enter as often as you like, and keep checking back through the week to see what other folks have come up with.

About last week's image of two men on scaffolding: I didn't see any messy headlines in the next day's paper, so I suspect they got their work done safely. Still, you all made me laugh, hard, with your excellent captions. Here's a rundown of this week's honorable menschens:
  • Awareness: "Tryouts for the Flying Wallendas."
  • Judy: "An accident waiting to happen."
  • Me: "Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your..."
  • D.O.M. Dan: "Don't Jump! A fall from that height will only hurt you!"
  • Sassy Mama Bear: "See I'm really this big!"
  • Barbie2be: "The ladder of success."
  • Robin: "Business casual."
Randall takes it this week with the deliciously subversive caption, I spoke with Charles Darwin. He said to go ahead and jump. I'll catch you. His blog, Musings from the Hinterland, is a delightful, thought-provoking view of life and family. Please drop by and say hi to him.

One more thing: Big news in our little blogworld, as we're now up to TWO weekly photo-related themes here on Written Inc. now. Watch this space on Wednesday for Thematic Photographic. If you missed this week's inaugural post, click here. I promise you it won't hurt a bit.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The scariest energy crisis yet?

No more service
London, ON, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

It's been a frightening week on planet earth. If you drive a car, you doubtless noticed yesterday's largest-ever single-day rise in crude oil prices, followed by this morning's echo-like spike at the gas pumps. These are historically scary times, and I fear it'll get far worse before it gets better.

Even if you don't drive a car, this affects you, too. Society is built on efficiently moving things from place to place. That takes energy, which adds cost to every step along the supply chain. Those plastic flamingoes that you bought to festoon your lawn for your kid's birthday? From the plastic pellets used to make them to the trucks used to get them to your neighborhood store to the electricity that store uses to keep the lights on...someone's got to pay the freight. Namely, you.

We'll discuss food another day. That's scary in and of itself.

Your turn: You're reading scary headlines almost every day. What are you thinking as you do? Are you frightened? Are you making changes? Do tell.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Pixar, meet Discovery

Space flight doesn't garner the headlines that it did during the heady days of the Apollo moon missions. The world has changed. Technology doesn't blow us away as it once did. We're distracted by so many other things in life - Internet, cell phones, DVD extras, among others - that it's almost quaint to think back to a time when a launch was able to bring the entire nation to a virtual standstill.

Call me an oddball, then, because I still believe spaceflight is magical. Last Saturday, I watched NASA-TV for hours, first to catch the astronauts getting into the orbiter and later to watch them get hurled into orbit. I hung around for the post-launch press conference, too, and continue to pop in to see how this group of sheer geniuses is doing.

Although it's the busted toilet that gets the headlines, it's a cartoon character that's got my attention on this mission. Buzz Lightyear, Woody's buddy from the Toy Story movies, has a role in STS-124. Specifically, a Buzz action figure has gone up with Discovery, and will be used for some on-orbit educational broadcasts.

Keying off of this unique space education opportunity, Ornaldo Sentinel photographer Red Huber, also got Sheriff Woody involved. The Sentinel is Cape Canaveral's hometown paper, and as such invests more in space coverage than most media outlets. Mr. Huber is one of many photogs who regularly uses remote cameras to capture incredible, close-up views of shuttle launches.

This time out, he strategically placed a Woody doll between one of his remote cameras and the pad. When Discovery launched, he got a shot of Woody saying goodbye to his buddy. I admit feeling tears well up in my eyes when I first saw the shot.

Click here for the explanatory blog entry.

Who says there isn't magic in this business anymore?

Your turn: A picture that made you cry. Please discuss.

One more thing: Thematic Photographic wants you! It's my latest crazy attempt to mine your collective photographic greatness, and I hope you'll jump in with both feet. The rules are simple: Every week I pick a theme (this week's is automotive.) All you gotta do is post a theme-related pic on your blog, then link back to it in a comment. Easy and fun! Click here to get started.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bedside manner

Hospital essentials
Montreal, QC, May 2008

You hope you never have to spend any amount of time in a hospital. But if you do, you'll probably have a banged-up rollaway table just like this beside your bed. And if you're lucky to be well enough, you'll use that circa 1970s-era phone to remain connected to the outside world - and the people who matter most.

So much significance from such an initially insignificant little table.

Your turn: What's on your night table? Why?

One more thing: It's not too late to dive into my latest weekly fun-fest, Thematic Photographic. If you've got a camera and a hankering for the optically unknown, click here to get started. This week's theme: Automotive.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thematic Photographic - The rules, such as they are...

I shudder at the term "rules" because it makes this sound so, I don't know, bureaucratic. It isn't. Thematic Photographic is supposed to be fun. And it's designed to give us all an excuse to take our cameras out, push our photographic boundaries and bit and then share the results with lots of like-minded folks. Here's how it works:
  • Every Thursday evening, at precisely 7 o'clock Eastern, I post a new Thematic Photographic entry.
  • Each entry has a unique theme.
  • You post a similarly themed image over on your blog.
  • You paste a link to your entry in a comment on my blog.
  • If you've already posted something that fits (on a blog, Facebook, MySpace, wherever) simply post the link to the existing entry. Old or new, all photos are welcome.
  • You may post as many photos or links as you wish. For a full week after I launch a new theme, I support it with a related picture/posting each day. I encourage you to do the same. This is all about sharing, so feel free to share to your heart's content!
  • Please share this link with friends, too, and encourage them to join in. The more, the merrier.
  • You may find all Thematic Photographic entries by clicking here. The rules (this link) may be found here.
  • And please accept my thanks for your enthusiasm. Your participation has made TP a true highlight for me each and every week.

Thematic Photographic 1 - Automotive

Sexy car
Toronto, ON, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

Quick note: This is the first entry in what I hope will become a weekly feature. I'd like to call it Thematic Photographic. Here's how it works:
  1. I post a picture and a theme every Wednesday.
  2. You take that theme and post a related post on your own blog.
  3. Once you're done, leave a comment here with a link to the entry.
No voting or anything: Just an opportunity to challenge our collective photographic skills, learn from each other and have some fun in the process. Are you game? I sure hope so! Let's get on with the show, then...
About this photo: Years ago, I learned that sexy cars can make great subjects. Whenever I saw a Ferrari or some other rare set of wheels, I'd take a picture - any picture - and hope that I had done the artistically turned sheetmetal justice.

Looking back at my old photos, I clearly failed pretty much every time I tried. But why?

The answer is simple: I assumed that the sexiness was in the subject. How wrong I was. Truth is, any subject can be captured in an alluring manner if you approach it just so. But a photo isn't by definition "sexy" simply because the subject might be exotic.

I guess this is where the seeds of my so-called beauty-in-everything philosophy was born. Anything can become an incredible photo. You just have to take the time to explore its virtues before you decide how to tell its story. In this case, you'll laugh when you realize what kind of car I was shooting and how I came to be at its wheel.

Your turn: This week's theme is (I know, big surprise) Automotive. Please post an automotive-themed entry (cars, trucks, anything with motors and wheels) on your blog, then drop a link into the comments here. I hope you'll return through the week to see what everyone's been up to.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Grassy

London, ON
May 2008
[Click to embiggen]

After last week's WW entry, I was challenged by the ever-brilliant Bernie to post a turf-themed image this week. So I went out and played in the grass with my camera.

It's weed season here in Ontario. Our greenery promises to become even more weedy in future as the province moves forward with plans for a ban on lawn chemicals. That works for me: I'm tired of wondering whether our propensity to spray everything in sight will result in us growing third arms. I'm also tired of realizing - often too late - that my dog has walked on a just-sprayed lawn. We seem to have lost our way in the pursuit of the perfect lawn, and I fear we're already paying a serious price for it.

There, I'll get off my soapbox now. It matters little to me how we define this dandelion. It's a living, robust flower that enthralls my kids when they get to blow its fluffy seeds all over the place. And I get to lie in the grass - worry-free - to take pictures like this. Enjoy!

Your turn: Weeds...thoughts?

One more thing: Welcome to my new Wordless Wednesday visitors - it's a joy to have you drop into my humble blog. Before you click away, I hope you'll read this week's Caption This entry (just click here to head on over) It's a weekly tradition here at Written Inc., and I look forward to you adding to the fun as well. Thanks!

Talking head, small screen

Thought I'd post a quick rundown of some of the more notable recent media hits I've had. You never know where I'll pop up...

I was on television last Thursday, talking about Research In Motion's battle with the Indian government over allowing the feds there to monitor BlackBerry messaging traffic. Outside of the tech space, it's not one of those big headline-type stories, but it could have significant implications for mobile data use everywhere else depending on which way it goes. I spoke with BNN's Linda Sims on her morning program, The Street, and you can see the video by clicking here.

A couple of weeks earlier, I had spoken with the National Post's David George-Cosh on this issue. The resulting article, RIM to resolve BlackBerry security issue in India within 1 month: reports, published May 16th.

Marc Saltzman quoted me in his piece, Gaming goes HD: What high-def brings to the table for players. It originally published May 15th, and was re-posted May 21st here.

Judy Mottl of interviewed me for a number of pieces, including:
I've also been on AM640 Toronto Radio with John Downs somewhat regularly of late. If you're around Fridays at 8:40 p.m. ET, click here to listen to the live feed. You may hear a familiar voice. Here's the show lineup from this past Friday's show. Note the last line:
  • And of course, it's friday evening, so we'll hear from our resident technical ninja, Carmi Levy.
Your turn: Could this stuff possibly be any cooler?

One more thing: I'm still shamelessly flogging this week's Caption This contest. Click here to start the fun.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Privacy, please
Montreal, QC, May 2008 [Click to enlarge]

Nothing too grand here. Just another snippet from the hospital, the kind of detail that I tend to notice when I'm sitting in an uncomfortable chair beside a radiator that continues to spew heat despite the fact that it's a warm spring day outside.

Your turn: A simple scene that sticks in your mind. Please discuss.

One more thing: We're still captioning. Click here for this week's entry. You won't be sorry. Or maybe you will! Either way, are you game?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Caption This 73

Please caption this image
[Click here for instructions on how Caption This works]

London, ON, May 2008
[Click to enlarge]

I've often written about my habit of taking my camera with me whenever it's feasible. Sure, it would be easier to wander around town without a beaten-up old Tamrac loaf bag hanging off my shoulder. But then I would totally miss out on opportunities that seem to present themselves when I least expect them.

Like this one. The scene was typical: a very long advance left turn light on Wharncliffe Road North (turning onto Riverside, if you're from the area.) I was on my way home from an errand, and I noticed a couple of guys working on the sign next to the old Cityview restaurant on the corner. With no cars behind me, a long red ahead of me and my camera immediately beside my right hand, I grabbed it and shot before the light turned green.

No planning. Just an immediate response to a spontaneous scene. Photography means many things to me. This is one of them.

Your turn: Please suggest a caption for this composed-and-shot-in-a-blink image - just click on the Comments link below. Added bonus if you post your own spontaneous photo and include a link in a comment. As always, winners and a new photo go on the blog next Sunday - which leaves you a week to keep tossing your best ones into the hopper. Have fun!

About last week's image of a chair in a hospital corridor: I've already taken a lot of pictures within the hospital, and I suspect I'll be posting many of them in the weeks to come. Thanks to you all for your continued kind wishes. My father's still in hospital, but has improved markedly in recent days. The proverbial road ahead is long and murky, but the news seems more positive today than it did yesterday. That's enough to hold onto for now, I guess.

This week's honorable menschens go to these great folks:
  • MissMeliss: "When time stands still."
  • Randall: "Rest for the weary."
  • Lissa: "If these walls could talk..."
  • Sassy Mama Bear: "The things these walls have seen."
  • Judy: "Only the lonely."
  • Creative-type dad: "Silence..."
  • Allison: "Where every day feels like an eternity."
  • Robin: "Waiting, room."
  • Bob-kat: "Waiting for news."
  • Carol: "A fork in the road."
  • Awareness: "Silent hoping."
Tabor's caption, Making a bargain with God, jarred me a little. As I composed the shot, I thought about the people who have sat in that chair and what they had been thinking as they did. It occurred to me that some of them would be praying for good news. I know I've done the same thing during so many visits to this place. If you've never read her work, I urge you to click here and pay her a visit. While you're there, please congratulate her for penning this week's top caption.

Thank you in advance for playing along this week. I hope you have as much fun suggesting as I had choosing this latest photo.

(Oops, almost forgot: Happy new month!)

Out of the mouths of babes

A snippet from a conversation I had with Noah (our 7-year-old) earlier this evening:
Noah: Is Zaidy* out of the hospital yet?
Me: No, not yet, sweetie.
Noah: I wish he was already. I really want him to feel better.
You and me both, little man. You and me both.

Your turn: Kids with hearts of gold. Please discuss.

* Zaidy = Yiddish word for grandfather. In this case, he was referring to my father, who's been hospitalized for the past few weeks.